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Tomorrow's Special by Heain Joung

I am going to prepare one of your favorite meals. You will like it, I’m sure. To start I will put dried anchovies, onions and some radishes in water. I will bring the water to a boil then let it simmer for a couple of hours to make the broth. Then I will prepare the noodles. I bought them from the local shop where they make them by hand. They are thinner than chopsticks and white like snow, I made sure to buy enough. The broth is simmering nicely now. I look at the light steam gently rising from the pan and remember the story you told me of when you were young, and made noodles for someone else. 

You were about 15, you said. You were an orphan. Your father had disappeared in the war and your mother had died giving birth to you. You had been brought up by relatives  who already had too many troubles of their own. So at 15, they were happy to send you away to the city to work as a housekeeper. They were a rich family, you knew that, there were two children, a boy and a girl aged 7 and 9. You spent almost a year working in their house for them but you never really learnt who they were or what they did. One day they took you to the house of the president. You were told to stand behind the children while they shook hands with him. I remember You liked the president, especially his wife, they were from the same town as you. You told me that you had felt proud of them as if they were your own parents. 

There was a lot to do in the house you were always busy cleaning, helping the cook and looking after the children. Guests were often invited to the house and then you were especially busy. Sometimes you would hardly have time to eat, you told me. It was one of those days, a dozen people had come for lunch. They were going to have noodle soup. You were already hungry as the delicious smell of soup stock permeated the busy kitchen. It was your job to prepare the noodles and they were almost ready. It was time for you to rinse them quickly with cold water. You had to be careful though, as you carried the large, heavy and hot pan to the sink. You managed with a sigh as you put the pan down. Now came the part you told me you liked best. You took the soft noodles which tried to slide through your fingers, rolled them in your hands and quickly placed them in the bowls ready for the warm broth. You then saw some noodles at the bottom of the pan, which had slipped through your fingers, you put them into your mouth quickly. You told me how much you liked their taste at that very moment, straight from the pan. But then you heard a loud shout as you were struck on the back by the lady of the house. ‘Dirty little idiot,’ she shouted at you. You always looked a little sad when you told me this story while making noodles for me. Then you would wrap a few noodles around your finger and eat them  with a little smile.

Our lunch is almost ready. Why don’t you sit down here now, that’s right, carefully. Yes I know you are a little confused, don’t worry, let’s enjoy our meal. You don’t mind if I taste some straight away, do you? I’m sure you don’t. You always told me they tasted best just like that. Yes I know you don’t remember, you don’t remember very much anymore but that’s alright. I watch you eat quietly, you never complain. I think I will make some more tomorrow.


Originally from South Korea, Heain Joung holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from Sussex University. She now lives in the UK. Her short fiction has appeared in Virtual Zine, Fudoki Magazine, Full House Literary, Flashback Fiction, FlashFlood Journal and elsewhere. Twitter @heainhaven

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